We know that many new fencing parents are confused by the topic of fencing national points. You’re learning about practice and technique and fencing competitions, then you hear other parents talking about these points and whether their child has any, and … Wait, does your child have any? Do they need to?
Truth be told, national points is not a complicated topic when you break it down. First though, keep in mind that the detailed explanation can be found in the Athlete Handbook. However, as with most rule books that have to be detailed and all-inclusive, the handbook can be a bit daunting. I know of parents who have tried to read it and quickly became discouraged. It’s still an important resource though, and I think once you have a decent understanding of a topic like national points, you could then read the handbook to fill in the blanks when you are ready.
Nonetheless, here is my attempt at explaining national points in a way that is clear and not overwhelming. I welcome your feedback and questions once you’ve read through!
National Rolling Point Standings (NPRS) is the official term, but most often people just talk about earning national points. The NPRS is a ranking mechanism that USFA applies to fencers performing at national- or international-level tournaments. Based on their final placement in a points-awarding tournament, the fencers are awarded the appropriate number of points.
Key Point: In some of the big tournaments, you can earn national points based on how you finish.
Fencers can accrue points throughout the season and then a formula is applied that creates the final totals and ranking based on those totals within a certain age group.
The points are not restricted to within one fencing season, rather they roll between seasons within a sliding window of one year. Hence the name “Rolling Point Standings”. The point standings are maintained separately for each weapon/age/gender category. A Y12 Men’s Foilist may by ranked high on that particular standing and have a lower ranking for Y12 Men’s Epee. The two standings have no impact on each other.
The system that maintains the points standing called National Points Rolling Standing (or NPRS). The USFA database is frequently updated within some reasonable time with the results of latest competitions and all fencers in that age/weapon/gender category are sorted out from highest to lowest national points standing.
So what is the usage of national points?
National points are used in the following situations:
- First and foremost, as a mechanism to rank fencers in the same gender/weapon/age group against each other on the national level.
- A fencer who is otherwise ineligible to participate in a competition in the next age group can participate if they have national points in their age group. For example, a Y10 fencer can typically participate only in Y10 and Y12 competitions, but if a Y10 fencer is on the NRPS in the Y12 category, then they can fence in a Y14 competition.
- At national, regional, and sometimes even local tournaments, national points are used to seed participants in the initial seeding for pools. Important to note that at such competitions, only national points from the specific age/weapon will be taken into consideration. For example, if a fencer is ranked in both Y10 and Y12 in a particular weapon, and the competition event is Y10, only ranking in Y10 will be taken into consideration for seeding purposes.
- Fencers on NRPS for a particular age/weapon are automatically qualified to fence at national-level tournaments for that age weapon, such as championships, NACs, or July Challenges.
- For older age categories (e.g., cadet, junior, senior, veterans), national points are used to fill the quota of US fencers who can fence internationally. For example, in international cadet tournaments, the first 20 highest ranked fencers are automatically allowed to fence internationally, with lower ranked fencers placed on a standby list (again, in the order per national ranking).
- The national team in every age category is composed of top-ranked fencers in that category. But if you’re still reading this post and you or your child are at the point where this point is relevant, you already know everything you need to know about points! And probably now is a good time to ask you to comment below this blog post!
This post does not cover everything to know about national points, but for newer fencers, you should now understand why they’re important and how they are used. How to get them, when they count and when they don’t, and much more will be addressed in following posts. Stay tuned!